Entries - Race and Ethnicity: White - Starting with D

DaBoll, Raymond Franklin

Raymond Franklin DaBoll, one of the most talented calligraphers in America, moved to Newark (Independence County) in 1952, where he continued producing masterpieces of calligraphy. Raymond DaBoll was born on June 19, 1892, in Clyde, New York. Several generations of his family published the well-known Daboll Almanacks from 1773 until 1969, when it merged with the Old Farmer’s Almanac. When DaBoll was a youngster, because of constant mispronunciation of the family name by others, his father and uncles changed the spelling of the name from “Daboll” to “DaBoll.” While in his third year of high school, DaBoll won first place in an art contest sponsored by the Rochester Training School for Teachers. Encouraged by this accomplishment, he dropped out of …

Dalton, Donald

Donald Dalton served as a brigadier general in the Arkansas National Guard. At the end of his career, he was the commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard. Donald Dalton was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 10, 1939, to John and Dora Dalton. His father worked as a baker, and Donald had an older brother and two older sisters at the time of his birth. While he was a child, the family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Dalton graduated from Central High School in 1957. Dalton enlisted in the Air National Guard as a weapons mechanic that same year. In 1961, he received a commission as a second lieutenant and entered undergraduate pilot training at Laredo …

Daly, John Patrick

John Patrick Daly has been a professional golfer on the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour since 1990, having stunned the golf world by winning the PGA Championship as a rookie. He owns a golf course in his hometown of Dardanelle (Yell County), and he is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. John Daly was born the youngest of three children on April 28, 1966, in Carmichael, California, to Jim Daly, a construction worker on nuclear power facilities, and Lou Daly. Daly’s family moved to Dardanelle when he was five because his father took a job at Nuclear One in Russellville (Pope County), and he began playing golf soon after. The family moved several times as his father …

Daniel, Lucy Jane

In the late 1800s, it was so unusual for women to be stone carvers that The Monumental News, a trade journal, was able to locate only three to write about—one of whom was Lucy J. Daniel, formerly of Arkansas. The others were from Kansas and Canada, and all had learned the trade from their fathers. The journal article noted that Daniel had been fully in charge of the family’s marble shop since 1885, doing all the lettering, and some cutting and polishing, of the tombstones. Her only known sculpture is the Goddess of Liberty statue at Pea Ridge National Military Park. Lucy Jane Daniel was born in May 1865 in Carter County, Kentucky. Her mother was Rebecca Jane (Remy) Daniel, …

Daniel, Thase Christine Ferguson

Thase Christine Ferguson Daniel of El Dorado (Union County) was an internationally known nature and wildlife photographer. During a career that spanned the 1950s to the 1980s, her work appeared in major publications and magazines, including Field and Stream, Ranger Rick, and Reader’s Digest. Thase Ferguson was born on December 5, 1907, the daughter of C. Curran Ferguson and Daisy Moore Ferguson of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). She graduated from Ouachita Baptist College, now Ouachita Baptist University (OBU), with a BA in music in 1929. While at Ouachita, Ferguson met fellow student John T. Daniel of Arkadelphia (Clark County). They were married on June 29, 1930. The Daniels lived in El Dorado, where John owned and operated an automobile dealership. …

Daniels, Charlie

Longtime state official Charlie Daniels began public service as a member of his local school board. A career that spanned over three decades included lengthy tenures in a number of statewide offices: commissioner of state lands, secretary of state, and state auditor. Charlie Daniels was born on December 7, 1939, in Parkers Chapel (Union County) to Louie Green Daniels and Ruby Marie Hill Daniels. He grew up in nearby El Dorado (Union County). He joined the U.S. Air Force after graduating from high school, and his four years of active duty were followed by fifteen years in the Air Force Reserves. Upon completing his active duty, Daniels attended Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia (Columbia County) and then the University of …

Danley, Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus Danley was a soldier, political activist, and newspaperman in the early days of Arkansas statehood. His adroit use of his newspaper, as well as his own political efforts, made him an often formidable opponent of the political dynasty known as “The Family,” a powerful group of Democrats who dominated Arkansas politics in the years between statehood and the Civil War. He also served as state auditor from 1849 to 1855. C. C. Danley was born on June 5, 1818, in the Missouri Territory. His father, James Danley, was an early pioneer in the Missouri and Arkansas territories. While Danley had at least two brothers and a sister, there appears to be no documentation concerning his mother. Danley set …

Darby, William Orlando

Brigadier General William Orlando Darby, born in western Arkansas, is best known for his organization of the First Ranger Battalion during World War II. He was known as an exemplary leader in combat, and he always led his men into battle. Bill Darby was born on February 8, 1911, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). His father, Percy Darby, owned a print shop, and his mother, Nell, was a homemaker. He had a younger sister named Doris. Darby attended Belle Grove School through the sixth grade and then went to Fort Smith Senior High School. After his graduation in 1929, he received an appointment to West Point Military Academy, where he served as a cadet company commander. He graduated from West …

Dark, John William (Bill)

John William (Bill) Dark was a bushwhacker in north-central Arkansas during the Civil War. From June 1862 to January 1863, he served as captain of Company A, Coffee’s Recruits, a guerrilla band that attempted to thwart Federal advances in northern Arkansas, as well as to conscript state troops. Dark soon gained the reputation as a cruel and ruthless plunderer who preyed on citizens of Searcy, Izard, and Van Buren counties. Bill Dark was born in Arkansas sometime around 1835. Most of his short and violent life remains shrouded in mystery, and what is known about Dark comes through oral history. He was apparently a handsome and literate young man with long red hair. In 1850, the first time his name …

Darr, Mark

Mark Darr served as lieutenant governor of Arkansas from 2011 to 2014. Elected as part of a wave of political newcomers in 2010, he quickly became embroiled in a series of investigations relating to alleged ethics violations. In January 2014, with almost a year left in his term, Darr resigned his office. Mark Darr was born on July 3, 1973, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), the youngest of five children born to the Reverend Johnnie Darr, who was a Southern Baptist minister, and his wife, Patsy Darr. Darr grew up in Mansfield (Sebastian and Scott counties), graduating from Mansfield High School in 1991. In 1997, he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark …

Darragh, Fred K.

aka: Frederick Kramer Darragh Jr.
Frederick Kramer Darragh Jr. was a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businessman known for his philanthropic support of Arkansas’s social justice organizations, libraries, and liberal political causes, along with his efforts to educate Arkansans about foreign countries and cultures. Fred Darragh was born on November 13, 1916, in Little Rock, the oldest of three children born to Frederick Kramer Darragh Sr., a wholesale grain merchant, and Valerie S. Darragh. He was educated at Sewanee Military Academy at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, where he was a 1938 graduate. During World War II, Darragh flew the “hump,” as the Allied air transport of materials from India to China was …

Das Arkansas Echo

aka: Arkansas Echo
Das Arkansas Echo was a weekly German-language newspaper published out of Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1891 to 1932. It promised an “allgemeine Zeitung für Wahrheit und Klarheit auf dem politischen und sozialem Gebiete” (general newspaper for truth and clarity in political and social realm). At the time of its establishment, it was one of three German-language newspapers in the state; the Arkansas Volksblatt of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and the Arkansas Staats-Zeitung of Little Rock also provided news to German-speaking immigrants. The Echo reported a circulation of 850 in its early years, with circulation eventually reaching around 1,300. The Echo’s predecessor was Der Logan County Anzeiger (Logan County Gazette), which was published by Conrad Elsken and had a circulation …

Davidson, John Wynn

John Wynn Davidson was a United States army officer who led the cavalry contingent of the Union army that captured Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1863 and who subsequently feuded with Major General Frederick Steele about Federal policy in the state. John Wynn Davidson was born on August 18, 1824, in Fairfax County, Virginia, the son of William B. Davidson and Catherine Davidson. His father was a West Point graduate and veteran of the Seminole wars in Florida, and his grandfather was a general officer in the American Revolution. John Wynn Davidson followed his father into the army, graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1845. He served frontier duty in Kansas and Wisconsin before fighting in …

Davies, Ronald Norwood

Ronald Norwood Davies was the U.S. district judge who presided over the litigation involving the 1957 integration of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Ronald N. Davies was born on December 11, 1904, in Crookston, Minnesota, to country editor Norwood S. Davies and his wife Minnie M. Davies. In 1917, the family of seven moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where Davies completed elementary school. In 1922, he graduated from Central High School in Grand Forks and went on to attend the University of North Dakota. Davies received his BA degree from the University of North Dakota, College of Liberal Arts, in 1927 and, three years later, earned a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington DC. Davies …

Davis, Gail

aka: Betty Jeanne Grayson
Gail Davis was an Arkansas-born actress who starred as the legendary sharpshooter in the groundbreaking TV Western series Annie Oakley, which ran from 1954 through 1956. She appeared in thirty-two feature films, was guest on a number of TV shows, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and was a role model for young women. Gail Davis was born Betty Jeanne Grayson on October 5, 1925. Her mother was a homemaker and her father, W. B. Grayson, was a physician in McGehee (Desha County), which did not have a hospital, so her birth took place in Little Rock (Pulaski County). When her father became the state health officer, the …

Davis, Herman

Herman Davis was an outstanding marksman who distinguished himself in the U.S. Army during World War I. General John J. Pershing listed Davis fourth on a list of the greatest heroes of World War I. Herman Davis was born on January 3, 1888, at Big Lake Island, which later became Manila (Mississippi County), the son of Jeff and Mary Ann Vance Davis. The family operated a country store and supplemented its meager income with hunting, fishing, and farming. Davis quit school after the fourth grade to help support the family. He grew up in the woods and became a hunting guide at an early age, thought to be in his teens. Davis was an accurate shot and in the period …

Davis, Jeff

Jeff Davis was a populist governor who railed against corporations and often resorted to race baiting in his campaigns. His tenure in office proved extremely divisive, creating for him many enemies. However, Davis dominated Democratic politics in the state in the early years of the twentieth century, being elected to the office of governor three times and going on to become a U.S. senator. Jeff Davis was born on May 6, 1862, near Rocky Comfort (Little River County) to Lewis W. Davis, a Baptist preacher, lawyer, and county judge, and Elizabeth Phillips Scott. Named for the president of the Confederacy, Davis enjoyed a relatively privileged childhood. In 1869, his family moved to Dover (Pope County) and then, in 1873, moved …

Davis, William Emmet

Photographer William Emmett Davis distinguished himself as a commercial photographer for forty years and, beginning in 1983, worked as a fine art photographer. Davis had aesthetic connections with photographers on the West Coast and worked almost exclusively in Arkansas. William E. Davis was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on October 14, 1918, to E. N. Davis and Mayson Wise Davis; he had no siblings. His father was a physician. Davis attended local schools and then the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). There, he took two years of pre-med courses. The course of study was interrupted when Davis enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II. From 1941 to 1945, he was a fighter pilot aboard …

Davis, William Henry (Willie)

William Henry (Willie) Davis was a professional baseball player who spent eighteen years in the major leagues before retiring at the end of the 1979 season. Spending most of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Davis played a key role on the franchise’s 1963 and 1965 World Series championship teams, and, while he finished his career with the California Angels, Davis held a number of Los Angeles Dodgers batting records at the time of his retirement. Willie Davis was born on April 15, 1940, in Mineral Springs (Howard County), but he grew up in Los Angeles, California. A multi-sport athletic star at Theodore Roosevelt High School, Davis was a world-class performer in track and field, specializing in the 100-yard dash …

Day, Clyde “Pea Ridge”

Known as the “hog-calling pitcher” in a baseball career spanning the 1920s and early 1930s, Clyde Henry “Pea Ridge” Day transported his considerable talents, his hometown’s name, and a slice of the lively culture of the Arkansas hills onto the national scene. Day’s fun-loving showmanship and competitive spirit brought rare publicity to his hometown and home state. Clyde Henry Day was born on August 25, 1899, the second child of James (Jim) and Elizabeth Day. Day’s family lived on a farm and operated a steam-powered sawmill three miles north of Pea Ridge (Benton County), near the Missouri state line. His birthplace is taken to be Pea Ridge, although family members think the actual birth may have taken place in McDonald …

Day, Patrick Alan (Pat)

Patrick Alan Day is a retired thoroughbred jockey with 8,803 victories, many of which came at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs (Garland County). Born on October 13, 1953, in Brush, Colorado, Pat Day wrestled in high school, once winning the state championship for his weight class. After graduating, he participated briefly in professional rodeo bull riding before turning his attention to thoroughbred horse racing. Standing four feet eleven inches tall and weighing about 100 pounds, Day adapted quickly to the sport, riding Foreblunged to his first career victory on July 29, 1973, at the Prescott Downs Racetrack in Prescott, Arizona. Day dominated thoroughbred racing throughout the Midwest in the 1970s and secured his first major win on the East …

de Soto, Hernando

Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer who led an expedition into the southern United States. He and his soldiers were the first Europeans to set foot in what is now Arkansas. Four written accounts of the expedition provide details about his trek through the state. De Soto was born in the Extremadura region of western Spain around 1500, but the exact date is uncertain. He probably was born in the town of Jerez de los Caballeros. The second son of Francisco Méndez de Soto and Leonor Arias Tinoco, he had at least two younger sisters and an older brother. Although the family was of noble heritage, de Soto was poor and borrowed money to travel to the New World …

de Tonti, Henri

aka: Henry de Tonty
Henri de Tonti helped establish the first permanent European settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley in 1686. It was called the Poste aux Arkansas, or Arkansas Post (Arkansas County). As a result, de Tonti is often called the “father of Arkansas.” Although Italian by birth, de Tonti is associated with French exploration. He received notoriety as an explorer in the Great Lakes Region and Mississippi River Valley with his friend, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, at a time when the French were establishing trade monopolies in parts of North America to compete with the English and Spanish. Henri de Tonti was born around 1649 near Gaeta, Italy, to Lorenzo de Tonti and Isabelle di Lietto. The family moved …

Dean, “Dizzy”

aka: Jay Hanna Dean
Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean was a professional baseball player and radio and television baseball broadcaster who was later inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Dean and his younger brother, Paul, pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals during the team’s “Gashouse Gang” era of the 1930s. Along with the aging Babe Ruth, “Dizzy” Dean was considered baseball’s major drawing card during the Depression years of the 1930s. Born in Lucas (Logan County) on January 16, 1910, Jay Dean was the son of Albert Monroe “Ab” Dean, a tenant farmer and sawmill worker, and Alma Nelson Dean. His Arkansas childhood was not an easy one. His mother died in 1918 from tuberculosis, and …

Dean, Paul

aka: Paul Dee "Daffy" Dean
Like his brother, Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean, Paul Dee “Daffy” Dean was a baseball player who enjoyed his greatest success as a teammate with his brother on the St. Louis Cardinals. Due to injuries, Paul Dean had only two truly successful years in the major leagues, though he attempted numerous comebacks. However, the Dean brothers’ 1934 and 1935 seasons are well remembered by baseball historians. Paul Dean was born on August 14, 1913, in Lucas (Logan County) to sharecroppers Albert Monroe Dean and Alma Nelson Dean. He became a professional baseball player in 1932 by signing with Houston of the Texas League. In 1934, he joined his brother on the pitching staff of the St. Louis Cardinals, prompting Dizzy’s famous …

Deane, Ernie

aka: Ernest Cecil Deane
Ernest Cecil (Ernie) Deane—journalist, teacher, historian, and folklorist—was best known for his newspaper columns, “The Arkansas Traveler” and “Ozarks Country.” He taught journalism at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington Couny) and was a proponent to restore Old Main to its historical character at the UA campus. Ernie Deane was born on October 29, 1911, in Lewisville (Lafayette County) to Ernest Deane, a railroad engineer, and Mabel Drew Deane. He attended public schools in Lewisville and Texarkana (Miller County). He received a bachelor’s in journalism in 1934 from UA, having served as editor of the Arkansas Traveler, the UA newspaper, and studied under the founder of the journalism department, Walter Lemke, whom Deane considered his mentor. Deane earned …

Dearmore, Thomas Lee (Tom)

Thomas Lee Dearmore was a nationally recognized journalist and newspaper editor. A native of the Ozarks, Dearmore focused on politics and music in his writing. He worked at newspapers in Washington DC and San Francisco, California, and was an editor at the Arkansas Gazette for two years in the 1970s. Like his contemporary Harry Ashmore, Dearmore was a new breed of southern journalist who sought to distance Arkansas and the South from a segregationist past. Tom Dearmore was born in Mountain Home (Baxter County) on September 11, 1927. He was the son of Benjamin Dearmore and Ethel Shiras Dearmore, both of whom were natives of Arkansas. During World War II, he was stationed in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he …

Dellinger, Samuel Claudius

Samuel Claudius Dellinger was curator of the University of Arkansas Museum in Fayetteville (Washington County) and head of the Department of Zoology for over thirty years. As curator, he built the museum’s archaeology collection into one of the best in the nation. In Dellinger’s view, the museum was, first and foremost, an educational resource for the people of Arkansas, and he worked to generate interest in it from the university community and the general public. Samuel Dellinger was born on January 14, 1892, in Iron Station (later Lincolntown), North Carolina, to Robert H. and Laura Loftin Dellinger. After graduating from high school, Dellinger attended Trinity College (later Duke University), where he was a varsity wrestler and swimmer. Dellinger earned his …

Delray, Martin

aka: Michael Ray Martin
American country music artist Michael Ray Martin (known professionally as Martin Delray) is best known for his 1991 cover of the Johnny Cash song “Get Rhythm.” Michael Ray Martin was born on September 29, 1949, in Texarkana (Miller County). After graduating from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1972 with a BA in English, he served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. After he left military service at the rank of private first class, Martin relocated to North Hollywood, California, and began playing the West Coast club circuit, opening for such acts as Doug Kershaw and Juice Newton. Martin eventually became a staff songwriter at a music publishing company owned by Seals and Crofts. One …

DeMent, Iris 

Arkansas native Iris DeMent has used her distinctive voice to sing folk, country, bluegrass, and gospel music. She has written songs about family, religion, people, places, and political ideas in a time when few were doing so. Iris DeMent was born on January 5, 1961, in Paragould (Greene County), the youngest of fourteen children. Her parents, Patrick Shaw and Flora Mae DeMent, were farmers on an island in the St. Francis River outside Paragould. When Iris was three, her father lost his factory job after a failed attempt to unionize, and the family hit hard times, sold the farm, and moved to Buena Park, California. They lived there until she was seventeen and then moved to Sacramento, California. Eventually, her …

Denton, Ivan

Ivan Denton, a pioneering Ozark woodcarver specializing in wildlife and Western scenes, was one of the most prominent artists in Arkansas. Ivan Denton was born Marlin Ivan Denton in 1927 in Ferrells, North Carolina, to William Denton and Mary Magdalena Massey Denton. Denton never had any formal artistic training but took up carving in the 1930s because he, like most boys in the Great Depression, often made his own toys. Denton whittled wood, pine bark, soap, soft stone, and, occasionally, bone and ivory. He ran away from home in 1945 and worked as a cowboy during a branding season in Texas and New Mexico. Denton spent a year as a first mate aboard a U.S. Army transport vessel, Leapin’ Lena, …

Dewees, Mary

A renowned reformer and advocate for prisoners’ rights, Mary Dewees was the first superintendent of the Arkansas State Farm for Women, the state’s first women’s prison, from 1920 to 1924. Mary Dewees was born on July 5, 1895, to Thomas B. Dewees and Lillie Dewees in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Bucknell University, where she studied social work and became well versed in the latest forms of progressive penology, especially ways to reform so-called wayward women. Dewees became director of education at New Jersey’s Clinton Farms reform school for women in 1918. At the age of twenty-five, Dewees was recruited by Grace Robson, another women’s reform pioneer who helped organize New Jersey’s first women’s reformatory in 1913. The following year, …

Dhonau, Jerry Franklin

Jerry Franklin Dhonau, a longtime newspaper reporter and editor, contributed to the Arkansas Gazette’s winning of a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting and commentary on the historic desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1957. Later, he served as an editorial writer at the newspaper for twenty-seven years and was chief of the opinion section when the Gazette closed on October 18, 1991. Jerry Dhonau was born on September 20, 1934, in Little Rock to Charles Mitchell Dhonau and Lura Hill Dhonau. His father settled damage claims for the Cotton Belt Railroad. An older brother, Charles Mitchell Dhonau Jr., was killed in combat in World War II. While he was a student at Little Rock High …

Dial, Rick

Rick Dial was a character actor, musician, and businessman from Malvern (Hot Spring County). Dial acted in fourteen Hollywood films, first appearing alongside childhood friend and fellow actor Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade (1996). In addition to his acting, Dial was part-owner of a furniture store in Malvern and was “the Voice of the Malvern Leopards,” announcing high school football games. Richard Halley Dial was born on March 9, 1955, in Malvern to Bill J. Dial and DeNora VanDusen Dial; he was one of three children. He graduated from Malvern High School in 1973, where he earned All-Conference honors on the Malvern Leopards football team. Dial married Phyllis Voss on September 22, 1973; they had three children. After high …

Dibrell, James Anthony, Jr.

James Anthony Dibrell Jr. was a founder of the University of Arkansas Medical Department (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences—UAMS) and served as its second dean. As a practicing physician and dean of the medical school, Dibrell was responsible for many of the developments in medical education in Arkansas at the turn of the century. James Dibrell was born on August 20, 1846, near Van Buren (Crawford County). His father, James A. Dibrell Sr., was a prominent pioneer physician of the Van Buren area well known in state medical circles. The Civil War had taken a toll on the family finances, so Dibrell began his medical education by “reading” medicine with his father in the evenings and working …

Dickey, Betty

Betty Clark Dickey is a former chief justice and justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. She became the first woman to serve as the court’s chief justice. Betty Clark was born in Black Rock (Lawrence County) on February 23, 1940, to Millard Morris Clark and Myrtle Norris Clark. She grew up in nearby Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County), graduating as valedictorian from Walnut Ridge High School in 1958, where she played forward on the girls’ basketball team. She went on to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where she studied education, graduating in 1962 with a BA. She married Jay Woodson Dickey Jr., a lawyer from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) who later served as the Fourth District congressman …

Dickey, Bill

aka: William Malcolm Dickey
William Malcolm (Bill) Dickey is considered by baseball historians to be one of the best catchers in baseball history. Dickey played and later coached for the New York Yankees during that club’s dominance from the late 1920s to the early 1960s. His years as a player and coach are seen as a bridge that connects the great Yankees teams of those years. It is doubtful that any baseball figure can match the team success Dickey enjoyed as a player and coach. Combined, player/coach Dickey’s teams won seventeen American League titles and fourteen World Series (and Dickey was named to eleven All-Star teams in his playing career). That team success combined with Dickey’s individual performance made for an extraordinary career. Bill …

Dickey, Jay Woodson, Jr.

Jay Woodson Dickey Jr. was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas in the 103rd through the 106th Congresses, serving from 1993 to 2001. Jay W. Dickey Jr. was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on December 14, 1939, to Jay W. Dickey and Margaret Dickey. He graduated from Pine Bluff High School in 1957, before attending Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) for a brief time. He transferred to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1961. Continuing his studies at UA, Dickey earned a law degree in 1963. After being admitted to the state bar, he entered into private practice in …

Dickinson, Samuel Dorris

  Samuel Dorris Dickinson was an archaeologist, historian, journalist, linguist, and college instructor. He was one of the early academically trained archaeologists to work and teach in Arkansas. He was a participant in the development of the field of archaeology in the United States, when few who worked as archaeologists had college degrees. He was an editor at the Arkansas Gazette, Arkansas Democrat, and Shreveport Journal for nearly thirty years. Dickinson was a well-known collector of antiques from the early territorial period of Arkansas. He also acquired folk art, religious art, books, paintings, and fossils. Dickinson published widely on his archaeological and historical research in a number of regional professional journals. Sam Dickinson was born on February 26, 1912, in …

Dickinson, Townsend

Townsend Dickinson was elected to the territorial legislature and served as prosecuting attorney for his territorial district. He was appointed U.S. Land Office Registrar of Batesville (Independence County) in 1833. He served as a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1836. Following the convention, he was elected to the first Arkansas General Assembly, which soon made him one of three original members of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Little is known about Dickinson’s childhood, but it appears he was born in Yonkers, New York, in 1795. He was said to be a very polished and well-spoken scholar. In 1821, he moved from New York to Lawrence County, Arkansas. He then moved to Batesville, practicing law and dabbling in real estate. …

Dierks, Herman

Herman Dierks was the co-founder and two-time president of the Dierks Lumber and Coal Company, supervising its lumberyard in De Queen (Sevier County) and other parts of eastern Oklahoma and northern Louisiana. With the help of his brothers, he helped create and control the Dierks timber empire. Born near Lyons, Iowa, on September 24, 1863, Herman Dierks was the seventh child of Peter Henry Dierks, a German farmer and a banker, and Margaretha Dorothea Tauk, a Danish immigrant. He joined his brother Hans in Nebraska after Hans bought land there along the newly constructed Burlington Railroad. Dierks farmed until he and his brother bought a lumberyard in 1887, which later proved to be the source of Dierks’s fortune. On May …

Dillard, William Thomas

William Thomas Dillard was the founder of Dillard’s, Inc., one of the nation’s largest fashion apparel and home-furnishings retailers. From an $8,000 investment in a single store in Nashville (Howard County), Dillard, an Arkansas native, built a premier retail chain with a national presence of more than 300 stores in twenty-nine states. William T. Dillard was born on September 2, 1914, in Mineral Springs (Howard County), the only son of Thomas Dillard and Hattie Gibson Dillard, who were prominent farmers and merchants in the close-knit Mineral Springs community. Retailing excited Dillard from a very young age, and he spent many hours in his father’s store. Dillard attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where he majored in …

Dillon, Melinda Rose

Melinda Rose Dillon is an American actress who has appeared in dozens of movies, plays, and television shows. She has been nominated for several major awards, including an Academy Award and a Tony Award; in addition, the Screen Actors Guild recognized her for her role in Magnolia (1999). Other memorable films include Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), A Christmas Story (1983), and Harry and the Hendersons (1987). She has also appeared on television in episodes of Bonanza and the TV movie A Painted House (2003). Melinda Dillon was born on October 13, 1939, in Hope (Hempstead County). Information about her early life is sparse, as Dillon remains an intensely private person. She studied acting with both Lee Strasberg …

Dinsmore, Hugh Anderson

Hugh Anderson Dinsmore was the first Arkansan from Benton County appointed as a U.S. foreign minister. Dinsmore also served three years as a circuit clerk, six years as a prosecuting attorney, twelve years in Congress, and several years on the board of trustees for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Born on the family homestead in Cave Springs (Benton County) on December 24, 1850, Hugh Anderson Dinsmore was the eldest of five children born to Alexander Winchester Dinsmore and Catherine Anderson. In 1860, before the outbreak of the Civil War, his father owned six slaves and one of the five general stores operating in Bentonville (Benton County). Dinsmore was educated in Benton County schools and the Ozark Institute …

Disfarmer, Mike

aka: Mike Meyer
A portrait photographer in Heber Springs (Cleburne County), Mike Disfarmer’s invaluable contribution to photography and the documentation of rural America went unnoticed until 1973, fourteen years after his death. This eccentric man’s work, which later garnered national attention, captures with stark realism the people in and around Heber Springs in the early to mid-1900s. The particularities of Disfarmer’s biography are sketchy, largely because of his reclusive lifestyle and meager status during his lifetime. Various sources date his birth to German immigrants as either 1882 or 1884; however, a World War II draft registration card for one “Mike Disfarmer” of Heber Springs lists an August 16, 1882, birth in Daviess, Indiana. Disfarmer’s family later moved to the German community of Stuttgart (Arkansas …

Ditto, Beth

aka: Mary Beth Patterson
White County native Beth Ditto is the singer and songwriter for Gossip, an indie, dance-punk band based in Portland, Oregon. Ditto is also known for being a model and fashion designer who promotes positive body image, as well as for her outspoken support of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights. In 2006, she became the first woman voted “Coolest Person in Rock” by NME, a long-running British music magazine. She also released her first solo album in 2017. Beth Ditto was born Mary Beth Patterson on February 19, 1981. She was raised by a single mother, Velmyra Estel, and grew up in Judsonia (White County), near Searcy (White County); she did not know her father and was given the last name …

Dobbins, Archibald

Archibald S. Dobbins was a planter and a colonel in the Confederate army who spent most of the war leading cavalry units in Arkansas and Missouri. Archibald Dobbins was born in 1827, in Maury County, Tennessee, the son of David Dobbins and Catherine (Gilchrist) Dobbins; he had at least six siblings. His parents were farmers, and he grew up near Mount Pleasant, Tennessee. In 1850, Dobbins married Mary Patience Dawson. By the early 1850s, he had moved to Arkansas to establish himself as a planter. He purchased land in Phillips County, as well as land across the Mississippi River in Coahoma County, Mississippi. He became wealthy and established himself as part of the Helena (Phillips County) community. Dobbins did not …

Dockery, Jess Orval

Jess Orval Dockery was an aviation pioneer and an innovator of agricultural aviation in the Mid-South region, based first in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and, later, Stuttgart (Arkansas County) and Clarksdale, Mississippi. He played a leading role in developing aerial application processes, perfecting the science of crop dusting and spreading the practice to the Midwest. Jess Orval Dockery was born on February 26, 1909, in Dallas, Texas, to Jess P. Dockery and Myrtle Kemp Dockery. Confederate general Thomas Pleasant Dockery was his great-uncle, while socialite Octavia Dockery was a cousin. During World War I, his family moved to Lawton, Oklahoma, where his father ran a jitney service to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This gave Dockery access to the base’s aircraft, leading …

Dockery, Octavia

Octavia Dockery was a writer, socialite, and eventual recluse who became embroiled in the “Goat Castle Murder” case in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1932. The case garnered national and international headlines when she was accused of having murdered her neighbor, Jennie Merrill. Dockery was never tried for the murder, owing to the fact that Merrill’s actual murderer was killed by Arkansas police before Dockery could be brought to trial. Her story, nevertheless, provides an excellent example of Southern Gothic come to life. Octavia Dockery was born at Lamartine Plantation in Columbia County, Arkansas, in 1865, the daughter of Brigadier General Thomas Pleasant Dockery, who commanded the Nineteenth Arkansas Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, and Laura Octavia West Dockery. She was …

Dockery, Thomas Pleasant

Thomas Pleasant Dockery attained the rank of brigadier general in the Confederate army, commanding Arkansas troops in a number of important engagements on both sides of the Mississippi River. He enjoyed a reputation as a gallant and aggressive commander. One private under Dockery’s command recalled, “It was one of Colonel Dockery’s hobbies to volunteer to take some battery or storm some difficult stronghold.” At his death, the Arkansas Gazette observed that Dockery “was a broad-gauged man. He was as brave and gallant a soldier as the Confederacy produced.” Born in North Carolina on December 18, 1833, to Colonel John Dockery and his wife, Ann, Thomas Dockery eventually moved to Arkansas, settling in Columbia County, where his father established a large …